Over the last decade, JLS Automation, based in Pennsylvania, USA, has become one of the go-to companies for helping primary food packaging customers switch to robotic automation. Established in 1955, JLS was the brainchild of Joseph L. Souser, father of current President and CEO Craig Souser. Since then, the company has developed a dynamic background and gone through several changes. Ultimately, the company decided it needed to choose a market that showed solid growth potential.
“We’re very bullish on where the food industry is today and where it could go,” says Craig Souser.
“When we made the switch we felt the food industry was very stable, and that has proven to be true.
Food, in general, has not had a significant amount of automation to this point but modern packaging equipment is so fast that people can’t keep up with it. Robots are able to allow the next level of technology to be implemented.”
Starting about 15 years ago, JLS began building its own gantry robotic systems, but as prices for industrial robots were coming down and new technologies emerged on the market, JLS saw an opportunity they couldn’t pass up: signing on to integrate ABB’s FlexPicker “delta-style” high speed robotic pickers.
"Robotics didn’t exist in 1955 when we started, but when the FlexPicker came along in the early 2000s we got on board very quickly—and we’ve been a FlexPicker house ever since,” says Souser. “Originally we saw primary packaging as the only segment that the FlexPicker was going to work in. However, today we’re doing a lot of work in the secondary packaging segment and have developed some solutions for that market. As technologies have changed and our experience has grown we’ve been able to use robots for applications that we never imagined early on.”